Let’s change our mindsets to curb child sexual abuse

Manshel Kaur

Child sexual abuse among adolescents is a serious and unfortunately common problem that is highly underrated, to say the least. In most cases, the person who sexually abuses a child is an authority figure the child knows, trusts or loves. The impressionable young victim is then left to deal with his or her inner conflicts and often grows up to become a sexual offender.

Society will then punish the offender without stopping for a moment to think that the offender was himself (or herself) victim not just of abuse, but neglect by the very society that wants him (or her) punished. It’s a vicious cycle, really.

To stop this cycle, awareness must be attended with belief that every offender has in him (or her) an inner child burdened by conflict, a conflict that could have been prevented if guardians took time to equip the offender with skillsets to unravel it.

The first step in that direction is for us to realise, that the objective is not solely to prevent sexual abuse, but to prevent the child from blaming himself (or herself) for the abuse. Unfortunately, that’s where we Malaysians are lacking.

We are often shackled by cultural and religious limitations, to a point that we lack rationality and practicality in reason. Many prefer to educate children about religious constraints and cultural taboos and expect children to contend with life. Then, when the abuse happens, the world around the child crumbles.

To expect guardians to then understand the child’s predicament is akin to hoping for stone to turn into bread. But to take proactive measures henceforth to educate guardians on ways to reach out to victims may go a long way in curbing child sexual abuse, or, at the very least, prevent victims from turning into offenders.

And the first step in this direction is for us to stop expressing shock each time a child is raped and start offering hope. Let us stop talking only about maximum penalties that need to be imposed and realise that the problem may be ignorance on our part.

And once we come to terms with that, a whole new world will dawn upon us.

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